Formula 1 returns after a near three month hiatus as the Bahrain Grand Prix takes place this weekend. Max Verstappen will hit the tracks for Red Bull once again and starts the year as the reigning champion and will hope to seal his third drivers’ championship in as many years in 2023.
Verstappen’s first world title was filled with an enormity of controversy but his second title was hard to argue. He won a record-breaking 15 races in one season and beat his Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc by nearly 150 points. The Dutchman won his second world title following the Japanese Grand Prix, with four races in hand, and he only had two DNF - in Bahrain and Australia.
Never once did the 25-year-old finish outside the top ten and he also helped to steer the team to their first constructor’s championship since 2013, along with teammate Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez.
As Verstappen prepares for his second year as Number One, here is all you need to know about the Dutchman...
Who is Max Verstappen?
Born in Hasselt, Belgium, Verstappen races under the Dutch flag and is the son of former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen and Sophie Kumper, who also competed in karting. Despite being born in Belgium, to a Belgian mother and having previously lived in Bree, Belgium, Verstappen chose to race under the Dutch flag as he spent more time with his father (who is Dutch) while growing up.
In 2015, Verstappen said: “I actually only lived in Belgium to sleep, but during the day I went to the Netherlands and had my friends there too. I was raised as a Dutch person and that’s how I feel.” Verstappen speaks Dutch, English and German.
Max Verstappen’s career highlights
Verstappen became the youngest person to compete in Formula 1 when, at the age of 17 years and 166 days, he competed for Toro Rosso in the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. He had previously competed in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and recorded six consecutive victories in the series.
The 25-year-old raced for Toro Rosso for just over one season before he replaced Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull in the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016. He won his race debut for Red Bull and at the age of 18, had become the youngest-ever driver and first Dutch driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix.
Verstappen has now gone on to win 35 races, including a record-breaking 15 in one season, and has 77 podiums to his name. The Dutchman is set to remain with Red Bull until at least the end of the 2028 season after signing a contract extension.
Who is Max Verstappen’s girlfriend?
Verstappen has been dating three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet’s daughter, Kelly, since January 2021. Kelly is a Brazilian model, columnist, blogger and public relations professional. Previously, the 34-year-old had been dating Kvyat and the two of them have a daughter.
The couple ended their relationship in December 2019, and she has been with his Red Bull replacement, Verstappen, since January 2021.
What is Max Verstappen’s salary and net worth?
Verstappen is set to earn £45million per season, according to estimates from RacingNews365. This puts him far ahead of his Mercedes rival, Lewis Hamilton, who is set to earn £29m this year while Charles Leclerc will take home around £20m.
Reports from CAKnowledge put the Dutchman’s net worth at around $200m (£167.4m). The driver gifted himself a private jet worth over $40m recently and has five real estate properties as well as three yachts. It is estimated his annual income is over £55m with the remaining £5m coming from brand endorsement deals.
When will Verstappen next be in action?
Verstappen will race in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race of the 2023 Formula 1 season. The race is scheduled to start at 3pm GMT and can be watched on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Formula 1 channels.